Abstract

Recrystallized zircon grains in a phengite-epidote-chlorite schist from north-eastern New Caledonia contain as inclusions a mineral assemblage consisting of celadonite, kaolinite, quartz, Fe-oxy-hydroxide, smectite, chlorite, xenotime-(Y), thortveitite, yttrialite, and allanite-(Ce). This assemblage formed during low-temperature (<100 °C) seafloor alteration of a plagioclase-rich mafic rock and represents the first documented evidence of this alteration event in the high-P belt of northeastern New Caledonia. The survival of this low-temperature mineral paragenesis in zircon of a rock that has undergone subsequent eclogite-facies metamorphism testifies to the strength and value of zircon as a container for mineral inclusions. Thortveitite (Sc2Si2O7) and yttrialite (Y2Si2O7) inclusions in the altered zircon cores represent a new occurrence for these minerals and suggest that they may be more common than is currently recognized. The altered zircon cores generally have lower trace-element contents than the pristine igneous zircon cores and we suggest that thortveitite, yttrialite, and xenotime-(Y) formed as a result of trace-element expulsion from zircon during low-temperature recrystallization. Trace-element concentrations in the zircon cores indicate that trivalent cations (REE, Y, Sc) in zircon cannot be charge-balanced by xenotime substitution alone. Pentavalent cation concentrations (Nb, As) are also insufficient for charge balance. The presence of thortveitite (Sc2Si2O7) and yttrialite (Y2Si2O7) suggests that trivalent cations in zircon might be charge-balanced either by monovalent anions substituting for oxygen or by small monovalent cations such as H occurring interstitially in the zircon lattice.

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